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Gangster capitalism and nostalgic authoritarianism in Trump's America

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Reprinted from www.salon.com

Just one year into the Donald Trump presidency, not only have the failures of American democracy become clear, but many of the darkest elements of its history have been catapulted to the center of power. A dystopian ideology, a kind of nostalgic yearning for older authoritarian relations of power, now shapes and legitimates a mode of governance that generates obscene levels of inequality, expands the ranks of corrupt legislators, places white supremacists and zealous ideologues in positions of power, threatens to jail its opponents, and sanctions an expanding network of state violence both at home and abroad.

Trump has accelerated a culture of cruelty, a machinery of terminal exclusion and social abandonment that wages a war on illegal immigrants, poor minorities of color and young people. He uses the power of the presidency to peddle misinformation, erode any sense of shared citizenship, ridicule critical media and celebrate right-wing "disimagination machines" such as Fox News and Breitbart News. Under his "brand of reality TV politics," lying has become normalized, truthfulness is viewed as a liability, ignorance is propagated at the highest levels of government and the corporate controlled media, and fear-soaked cyclones of distraction and destruction immunize the American public to the cost of human suffering and misery.

Under the Trump administration, culture has been weaponized and is used as a powerful tool of power, misinformation and indoctrination. James Baldwin, in a 1979 New York Times essay titled "If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?" wrote, "People evolve a language ... in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate."

Just one year into the Donald Trump presidency, not only have the failures of American democracy become clear, but many of the darkest elements of its history have been catapulted to the center of power. A dystopian ideology, a kind of nostalgic yearning for older authoritarian relations of power, now shapes and legitimates a mode of governance that generates obscene levels of inequality, expands the ranks of corrupt legislators, places white supremacists and zealous ideologues in positions of power, threatens to jail its opponents, and sanctions an expanding network of state violence both at home and abroad.

Trump has accelerated a culture of cruelty, a machinery of terminal exclusion and social abandonment that wages a war on illegal immigrants, poor minorities of color and young people. He uses the power of the presidency to peddle misinformation, erode any sense of shared citizenship, ridicule critical media and celebrate right-wing "disimagination machines" such as Fox News and Breitbart News. Under his "brand of reality TV politics," lying has become normalized, truthfulness is viewed as a liability, ignorance is propagated at the highest levels of government and the corporate controlled media, and fear-soaked cyclones of distraction and destruction immunize the American public to the cost of human suffering and misery.

Under the Trump administration, culture has been weaponized and is used as a powerful tool of power, misinformation and indoctrination. James Baldwin, in a 1979 New York Times essay titled "If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?" wrote, "People evolve a language ... in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate."

 

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Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and dis the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books are America's Addiction to Terrorism (Monthly Review Press, 2016), and America at War with Itself (City Lights, 2017). He is also a contributing editor to a number of journals, includingTikkun, (more...)
 

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